Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review of The 2011 BRD


Phrases like “must have” and “invaluable resource” do not underscore just how important this book is to the amateur umpire. Even the publisher’s promotion of the book doesn’t do it justice: “In 2003 Referee Magazine selected [the Baseball Rule Differences] as one of the forty essential baseball books – required reading for serious umpires.”

Calling the BRD a “godsend” is more accurate.

Amateur umpires routinely deal with several rulebooks, each of which has its own interpretations, history, and philosophy. For instance, the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) places greater emphasis on the safety of participants, and rightly so. This emphasis permeates throughout its rules and, over time, results in rule changes and interpretations that are deviate from the Official Baseball Rules (OBR). The confusing maze of different rules and interpretations is mind-numbing.

The concept for this magnum opus by Carl Childress is simple: The BRD catalogs the rule differences in four different baseball codes: NFHS, NCAA, NAIA, and OBR. Well, the only “simple” thing about the book is its description, much like a description of Gray’s Anatomy obfuscates the difficulty of its subject matter. It is a challenging task to understand one rulebook, let alone four. The BRD acts as a guide that aids the umpire in identifying how (and often why) the rulebooks deviate from one another, and presents practical advice for applying the rules at the different levels.

The BRD is an impressive 412 pages long (plus appendix), but it is not an exhaustive comparison of rules.  A rule or situation is only included in the book when it has received different treatment between the codes.  For instance, at the high school level a balk results in an immediate dead ball, which is different from college and pro rules.  The BRD discusses the status of the ball following a balk at the pro, college and high school levels.

The Baseball Rule Difference is arranged alphabetically beginning with Appeals and ending with Uniforms.  It also contains an alphabetical index, and a citation index for each rulebook. Since many situations are interpreted or handled differently between rulebooks, the BRD can be a kind of quick-reference guide to the rules.

The last BRD I purchased, the 2008 edition, is spiral bound. The spiral binding made the different sections easy to study when referencing other sources.  I am disappointed to see that the 2011 Edition is not spiral bound, but is glued at the spine. The font is also smaller than its predecessor, and not as easy to read.

I purchased my copy of The 2011 Baseball Rule Differences from for $27.72. Mr. Childress (aka Papa C) is also offering an electronic version of the BRD for an additional $15. Instructions for purchase are included in the book.  The e-book contains hyperlinks for quick reference and additional indices.  The electronic version is well worth the extra money (no sharing with your friends!)

Fair or Foul?
This book is one of the best. It is absolutely FAIR and a home run.  If you don’t own this book, you are missing out on a “invaluable resource” that you “must have.”

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